Stats: Travel Jobs Lead in Future Wages, Opportunities

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Photo credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / AndreyPopov

Jobs in the travel industry lead to higher wages and more opportunities for financial success, beating out both the manufacturing and health care sectors, according to the new Made in America: Travel’s Contribution to Workforce Development study by the U.S. Travel Association

U.S. Travel released the study in conjunction with National Travel & Tourism Week, which runs May 5 – 11. The second in the organization’s “Made in America” series of studies spotlighting the importance of the travel industry to the U.S. economy, the survey found that travel industry jobs can provide a path to prosperity for millions of Americans. 

Here’s a look at some key findings from the report: 

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  • Travel is the No. 1 industry for first jobs. Nearly four in 10 workers got their start in travel and tourism. Moreover, they are good first jobs that give workers skills, confidence and experience that are essential to successful careers in a broad spectrum of occupations.
  • Individuals who began their career in travel have gone on to earn a peak average salary of $82,400 by the time they were 50 years old—higher than those who started in manufacturing, health care and other industries.
  • Nearly a third of Americans (31%) re-entering the workforce do so through a job in the travel industry—compared to just 12 percent in manufacturing and 8 percent in health care. Travel jobs have the flexibility, availability, diversity and focus on practical skills to launch a rewarding career.

The report also includes case studies of individuals who have pursued careers in the travel industry.

“Like many Americans, my first job was in the travel industry—as a lifeguard at a hotel pool—and it gave me the foundation of skills and opportunities that led to a long and rewarding career," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a written statement. "Travel industry jobs are uniquely accessible to all Americans, and provide a path to a solid, lifelong livelihood."

Some of the other key takeaways from the report:

  • Travel industry jobs provide flexibility for pursuit of higher education and training. Of the 6.1 million Americans working part-time while pursuing higher education in 2018, more than half were employed in travel-related industries. Nearly one in five (18%) travel industry employees currently attend school, compared to the 8% of workers attending school in other sectors of the economy.
  • The travel industry is diverse and accessible compared to other industries. Nearly half (46%) of travel industry employees have a high school degree or less, compared to 30 percent of employees of the rest of the economy. Travel also has a greater share of Hispanics, African Americans and multi-ethnic individuals than the rest of the economy.
  • Experience in travel fosters entrepreneurs. Seventeen percent of Americans whose first job was in travel now own their own business, and 19 percent consider themselves entrepreneurs—again, a higher figure than manufacturing and health care. Of women who started their career in the travel industry, 14 percent now consider themselves entrepreneurs, compared to only 10% of those who started out in health care.
  • The travel industry fills the skills gap. Through training, education, certification programs and firsthand experience, the industry is providing resources and opportunities for high school and college students, minorities, females and individuals with barriers to employment such as the lack of a formal education.

The report primarily relies on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 and 1997 to explore the career path of individuals whose first job was in the travel industry.

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